Paladin - 1 Level Spell
Casting Time: 1 Bonus Action
Duration: 1 Minute
Reference: PHB 282
The first time you hit with a melee weapon attack during this spell’s duration, your weapon rings with thunder that is audible within 300 feet of you, and the attack deals an extra 2d6 thunder damage to the target. Additionally, if the target is a creature, it must succeed on a Strength saving throw or be pushed 10 feet away from you and knocked prone.
My Comments: More of a martial class than a spellcasting one, many folks overlook the Paladin’s spells. The most useful of these spells are those that Smite, bringing down wrath upon the heads of evildoers everywhere. Apart from the second level ability of Divine Smite, which simply adds considerable extra damage by expending spell slots, the specialized Smites all have abilities that are useful in specific circumstances.
There are seven smiting spells in the Paladin’s repertoire, each with their own brand of justice. Beginning at the beginning, let’s take a look at the efficacy of each of these Smites over the next several weeks.
Thunderous Smite is a first level Paladin spell, so it’s available to aid you at a character’s second level. The amount of extra damage it causes your target is significant at that level, and is still considerable at higher levels, as well. Adding an additional 2-12 points of damage to your, say, longsword’s 1-8, can result in a powerful blow (not counting your Strength bonus, which will hopefully be positive).
Beyond that, however, the ability to potentially bowl over your opponent is quite powerful. On a successful Thunderous Smite, the target of your spell must make a Strength save against your spell DC. If they fail, they are knocked back 10 feet and fall prone, opening them up to a greater likelihood of damage. For example, it your party’s Rogue is anywhere nearby, they can spring out and deal sneak attack damage against the prone opponent.
Paladins mostly take on the greater threats in any combat encounter, which means their opponents often have a high Strength. Even if you’re combating a giant,this can be amazing. Though giants and trolls and those sorts of enemies will have a greater likelihood of making their saving throw against Thunderous Smite, unless you have an exceptional Charisma to add to your spell save DC. Being judicious against what targets you use this against will grant you better chances of knocking them down. In other words, save this for your wily evil clerics, rather than the musclebound warlord.
Using Thunderous Smite at the right times can also be highly tactical. Fighting on a cliff? You might knock that creature 10’ back and over the edge, ending combat with one blow. Pay attention to the map and find ways of knocking creatures away and down to give you and your party some extra bonuses.
The biggest drawback to this spell, however, is that it is far from subtle. While it can cause a lot of extra damage against your tougher opponents, having thunder echo around for 300 feet in all directions spoils your chances of approaching an enemy encampment, for example. Granted, tactical use of this in a rainstorm will probably – at least against less canny enemies – hide what you’re doing amongst the rest of the rumbling skies.
Have you used Thunderous Smite to excellent advantage in your games? Share your Paladin’s conquest in the comments below!